Two men charged in the slaying of a pregnant West Valley woman shot in the head during a Kearns video store robbery April 22 have been bound over to 3rd District Court for trial.
Third Circuit Judge Paul G. Grant denied a motion by defense attorney Andy Valdez to reduce first-degree homicide charges to second-degree counts against Charles Kenneth Hodges, 44, in the shooting of Anna Holmes. Valdez argued the shooting was an accident.Holmes, 31, died later at a hospital, minutes after doctors successfully delivered a child by Caesarean section.
Grant also refused to drop second-degree murder and aggravated robbery charges against Raymond Darl Young, 34, whose attorney, Joe Fratto, said Young did not know what was happening when he drove the car from the shooting scene.
Young was also bound over on charges of obstructing justice.
The shooting occurred during a holdup of the Video Voyager, 5448 S. 4220 West, while Holmes, her children and some neighbor children were shopping, court records said.
Video store manager Carol J. Nielsen testified Thursday that about 8:30 p.m., Hodges entered the store, browsed through the "hard R" section for 10 minutes and asked for the movie "The Thing."
Hodges then approached Holmes and "said he was going to rob the place," Nielsen said, demonstrating how Hodges held a gun to Holmes' head by re-enacting the incident with an attorney.
The gunman demanded money, which Nielsen gave him in a bag, and then Hodges, still with a gun to Holmes head, "stepped off to the side and shot . . . Anna," Nielsen said haltingly.
Witness Calvin Kingkaid, who lives near the video store, testified he saw Hodges about the time of the shooting at a "full run" leaving the area of the store and then speeding away in a car like one owned by Young.
Questioned by Deputy County Attorney Ernie Jones, Salt Lake County Sheriff's Detective Harold Steffe said that after arresting Young April 26 on an outstanding warrant, Young said Hodges jumped in his car and told him "he just shot a woman."
But Valdez argued that the shot that killed Holmes was an accident and a near miss and did not constitute first-degree murder, which under statute requires that the killing be intentional.
"It is of course a very unfortunate situation . . . but we have to look at the evidence here," Valdez said, pointing to a statement by State Medical Examiner Edwin Sweeney, who said that had the gun been "pointed slightly different, it would not have hit."
Under cross examination, Steffe said that when Hodges entered Young's car, a hysterical and crying Hodges said, "I shot a woman, it was an accident, it was an accident."
Young's attorney said that Young was only riding with Hodges to a grocery store, and when Young returned to the car, Hodges was gone. Young then drove to a street behind the video store, where Hodges said he would meet him.
When Hodges did not appear, Young became nervous, drove around the block a few times, and finally saw Hodges running toward him and let him in the car, Fratto said.
Young sped away from the scene, but when Hodges said he had killed a woman, Young kicked him out of the car, Fratto said, quoting from the transcript of Young's interview with Steffe.
Young suspected Hodges was going to steal something but had no idea a shooting was to take place, Fratto said, again quoting from the transcript.